Unite Legal Services has been representing 168 members in the High Court today (21 January) who have been victims of blacklisting by some of the biggest construction firms in the country.
The Consulting Association, founded in 1993, operated a blacklist which was subsequently exposed in 2009 following an action by the Information Commissioner’s Office. The list complied the names of 3,213 workers who were routinely victimised and denied employment for being members of trade unions or for being vocal about workers’ rights and health and safety concerns.
The Unite the Union members in question suffered the effects of an illegal practice that systematically violated their human rights, destroyed their careers and resulted in economic hardship for their families. Despite apologies from companies like Balfour Beatty and McAlpines, following an admission that they had cross referenced their employees and prospective employees with the list, they remain committed to shamefully hiding the full extent of this practice.
In court today, Unite Legal Services made the case for proper searches of Balfour Beatty and McAlpines’ deleted emails from 2007–2009 that concern the future of the Construction Association, and allegedly that of blacklisting, after it had been closed down. The companies involved astonishingly refuse to see the necessity of these searches and claim they would be futile.
Howard Beckett, director of Unite Legal Services, said: “We have taken this case to the High Court in order to secure justice for the 168 members whose lives have been unalterably affected by this assault on their rights. Some of the biggest companies in the industry were routinely involved in blacklisting and, despite admitting their involvement in this practice, continue to avoid a transparent and full investigation.
“What we’re asking for today are proper searches of back-up tapes that contain deleted emails which may be of relevance to this case. Given that there have been allegations of incriminating documents being destroyed, we require all remaining available information on the subject of blacklisting and those involved. Until this evidence is brought to light, it is difficult for us to judge the appropriate amount of compensation our members rightly deserve.
“I’m thankful that our members have legal recourse and can pursue a claim of compensation through Unite Legal Services as part of their Unite membership. We are committed to seeking justice in the High Court against all those companies involved in blacklisting.”